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Australian iron ore price fall starts to hurt smaller miners

The iron ore price collapse is starting to claim victims, with one exporter bound for administration and USD 250 million takeover deal under increasing doubt.

This year’s 38% fall in the benchmark iron ore price continued late on Friday night, with the price slipping to USD 83.60 per tonne.

The price pressure became too much for pokie king Bruce Mathieson’s Western Desert Resources, which was forced to appoint KordaMentha as voluntary administrators on Friday.

Western Desert had been trying to renegotiate funding arrangements with Macquarie for its Roper Bar export operations in the Northern Territory but was told that no support would be forthcoming.

Western Desert named the low iron ore price among the reasons for its failure, which will also hurt engineering group Thiess, which was contracted to work as the company’s mining contractor until January 2017.

The collapse comes despite Western Desert having the financial firepower of Mr Mathieson and former Coles and AMP director Rick Allert behind it.

The sliding price could also cause trouble for media mogul Kerry Stokes, whose ASX listed iron ore vehicle Iron Ore Holdings is subject to a takeover offer from BC Iron. Under the terms of the acquisition bid, the deal can be terminated if the iron ore price falls below AUD 90 per tonne for 20 consecutive days during the offer period.

Friday night’s fall to USD 83.6 per tonne translated to AUD 89.14 per tonne, and represents the first time the price has gone below the nominated level since the takeover was launched on August 11.

The offer period was initially scheduled to run until September 26, and has since been extended to September 30, meaning there are just over 20 days until the end of the offer period.

BC Iron has the right to extend the offer period further if it chooses. If the takeover survives the price slide, Mr Stokes will receive about USD 8.5 million in cash and about USD 112 million worth of BC Iron shares, which are more valuable and far more liquid than IOH.

Source – SMH

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